Archer on target

June 6, 1992

Sacramento 21

Orlando 17

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada

Surge players celebrate their come-from-behind win.
photo: photo-stock.co.uk

NFL journeyman David Archer enjoyed a night to remember as the Surge came from behind to down the Thunder in the only World Bowl to feature American-based teams.

Archer, who hopped around the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, completed 22-of-33 passes for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns before a crowd of 43,789 in Montreal.

Archer's outstanding display won him MVP honours and a glowing tribute from Surge head coach Kay Stephenson. He said: "David Archer, to me, is one of the finest quarterbacks in the country. I know that might sound like an overstatement, but I believe it. He's better than a lot of people starting in the NFL right now.

"He is a great leader. He was a great leader throughout the regular season and he was a great leader today when we seemed to be in trouble. An experienced quarterback is an advantage in a championship game but also at any time."

But for much of the contest it looked as if Orlando were heading for World Bowl glory as their promising young quarterback, Scott Mitchell, made a very impressive start and led the men in the infamous lime-green jerseys to a 17-6 fourth quarter lead.

Mitchell, who would go on to NFL fame with the Miami Dolphins a year later as a substitute for the injured Dan Marino, started his first drive of World Bowl '92 on his own 2-yard line. Undeterred, Mitchell set about dissecting the Sacramento defense and threw the game's first touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Ford from 10 yards out while rolling away from defensive end George Bethune.

Archer's response was to lead the Surge on a 14-play drive which ended when he was sacked on third and goal at the Orlando 8. Cary Blanchard kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

The Thunder's ensuing drive stalled at midfield but Galen Hall's side got a break when Ray Criswell's punt was fumbled by wide receiver Eddie Brown, allowing Orlando to recover at the Sacramento 9-yard line.

Mitchell wasted little time getting the Thunder back in the end zone, rolling left and hitting WR Willie Davis for an 8-yard touchdown.

Orlando were able to increase their lead before the break when DB Malcolm Frank intercepted Archer's pass over the middle and returned it to the Surge 9-yard line. Tracy Bennett kicked a 20-yard field goal with 57 seconds left to give the Thunder a two-touchdown lead.

Archer then gave a brief glimpse of what was to come in the second half when he completed passes of 12, 13 and 12 yards before launching a beauty 35 yards downfield to Brown in the dying seconds of the quarter. Blanchard kicked the 24-yard field goal and the Surge went into the break trailing 17-6.

A scoreless third quarter made it seem increasingly likely the World Bowl trophy was heading to Central Florida - but Archer had other ideas and came out with the hot hand in the final period.

While Archer began to find his receivers downfield, Mitchell was having a miserable time in the face of a blitzing Sacramento defense led by now-Pro Bowl Seattle DE Michael Sinclair. Mitchell was only sacked twice but he was knocked down often and forced to hurry his passes.

"They blitzed and we didn't stop it," Mitchell said. "They did a lot of that in the second half. That field goal at the end of the first half was the turning point in the game."

Archer pulled the Surge to within three points when he fired a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Paul Green in the back of the end zone and then hit Mark Stock for the 2-point conversion.

The Thunder struggled to move the ball on their next drive and Mitchell fumbled away possession after being hit in the backfield. However, the Surge failed to tie the game when Blanchard's 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide.

With the clock winding down and Orlando in possession of the ball, one good drive was all the Thunder needed to seal Sacramento's fate. But Mitchell - under pressure from a heavy blitz - was intercepted by linebacker Mike Jones (who achieved Super Bowl fame with the St Louis Rams for his game-saving tackle in January against Tennessee) at the Orlando 34-yard line.

Archer made Mitchell pay for that costly error by moving his side into scoring range with a 31-yard completion to RB Mike Pringle. Three plays later, Archer lofted a 2-yard touchdown pass to Brown that proved to be the game-winner with just five minutes remaining.

Sinclair sacked Mitchell and forced another fumble as the Surge snuffed out any hopes of an Orlando comeback, leaving Thunder coach Hall to ponder what might have been.

"We self-destructed," Hall moaned. "We didn't have to score on that drive that ended with us being intercepted. We just needed a 7-minute drive and the game would have been over, but we couldn't get it done.

"We didn't play well in the second half. Their defense is tough to deal with and their blitz got us."

Linebacker Pete Najarian epitomised the mood in a noisy Sacramento locker room when he said: "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best - tonight we are the best."

Those who witnessed Archer's stellar performance would be hard-pushed to disagree.

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